Policing the police for the people
Nigerian policemen and women can be more dangerous than armed robbers and bandits any day of the week for sure.
The latest charge is that some of the police blokes are deeply engaged in the sordid business of organ harvesting.
People get arrested by the police and the arrested ones are never seen anymore because their body parts have been harvested and sold for hard cash.
The joy for me is that there are some courageous Nigerians who are determined to hold the police to account no matter the danger.
One such Nigerian who is as ever determined to police the police against all odds is Comrade Okechukwu Nwanguma, the Executive Director of Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC).
In his drive of tracking the activities of the police all over Nigeria, Comrade Nwanguma set up the Anambra State Police Stakeholders Partnership Forum (PSPF).
My meeting with Nwanguma at East-End Hotels & Suites, Awka, Anambra State on Friday, March 24, 2023 where PSPF held court to review and take positions on the state of security and human rights in the state was indeed an eye-opener.
The PSPF coordinator, Prince Chris Azor harped on the committed interventionist role of Comrade Nwanguma who ensures that nobody is oppressed by the police has led to Nwanguma being addressed as the Civilian IGP!
It was heartening hearing Nwanguma condemning the reports of unwholesome doings in Anambra police formations such as illegal detentions, extra-judicial killings, torture, organ harvesting and random kidnappings undertaken by police apparatchiks.
He stressed that the notorious Awkuzu SARS that had its name changed to Rapid Response Annexe amounted to only a mere name change.
Nwanguma cited the allegation of organ harvesting that a whistle-blower put on the doorstep of Zone 13 Headquarters and the RRS which had apparently been swept under the carpet. The accused police culprits walked in and were freed the same day while the whistle-blower was traced to Benin Republic and arrested, and is still wallowing in detention.
He insisted that the police authorities must come clean on these unprofessional conducts, and asserted that the police mantra of “Power pass power” must no longer be tolerated.
He asked victims of police brutality to always speak out, stressing that RULAAC will ensure that nothing untoward would ever happen to them.
The father of one of the victims of police menace, Titus Orji revealed that his only son, Jeremiah Chibuzo Orji, was on the night of March 19, 2022 taken away and had not been seen ever since.
His son was a student at Federal Polytechnic, Oko and had a bus with which he earned money by always ferrying passengers to Onitsha.
The family had been to the police area command and many police stations in search of the 22-year-old who hails from Uga town but had not met with any luck whatsoever.
Another victim, Bishop Gilbert Obinwa narrated the sordid story of how armed police officers stormed his residence in Okpo village, Ekwulobia, Aguata LGA at noon on April 24, 2022.
The officers ransacked the entire compound, saw Gilbert’s son holding a phone, and angrily asked him who he was calling.
When the policemen started manhandling him, the sister ran to the scene but the policemen ordered her to get back or they would instantly send her to meet her ancestors.
The policemen who came in a black Sienna bus and a red Spider vehicle arrested him and his apprentice and two other persons.
The daughter tracked their movement up to Nteje, but when the family went there in search of the arrested ones they were told that the place was a dangerous no-go area.
Gilbert Obinwa’s wife has since lapsed into depression.
Shedrack Nwafor, on his part, suffered unlawful detention, torture and intimidation in 2014. He was serving as a PTA teacher when the policemen came to arrest him.
He was not around but the policemen came back two days later and accused Shedrack of being a kidnapper and a thief.
He went with a lawyer to the police but they ignored the lawyer and took him to the back of the station and locked him up.
The police took him to the village for a thorough search and also to where he lived in Awka and made more searches, discovering nothing.
They searched his MTN line to no avail before he was detained for 9 days until people from his community came to stress that he was not a criminal. He was reluctantly set free.
Shedrack revealed that people were being hung upside-down, and not a day passed without a detainee being killed and taken away.
Comrade Ernest Nnoli informed all that youths were mostly the victims of random police arrests, and remarkably the police always made use of local informants.
There was a revealing case on January 5, 2023 in Ukpor when one informant called a friend to come to drink with him only for the victim to be arrested by the police.
The community told the informant that if anything happened to the victim, the townspeople would make sure that the informant would meet with death.
The victim was immediately released.
Christian Aguigwo narrated the case of a lad who had come back from Lagos suffering from a diabetic sore on the leg.
He was arrested in Amaenyi, Awka and taken to Enugwu-Ukwu until his barrister brother came to help arrange his release.
The police men are fond of saying: “Are they not your fellow Igbo people who are giving us information to arrest your brothers?”
Christian also narrated the case of the unlawful arrest and extortion of a final year student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka who was taking his final exams.
The poor lad had been tagged a criminal until Christian went to Central Police Station (CPS), Awka to make sure he was released.
May the great work of RULAAC and PSPF partnership under Comrade Okechukwu Nwaguma on policing the police for the people endure!